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Millage rates not complete picture of tax burden

Saturday, Aug 30, 2014 12:09 AM
Last updated Sunday, Aug 31, 2014 1:33 AM
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Newcomers who consider Augusta-Richmond County property tax rates in relocation decisions should rest assured that the county’s tax rates remain among the area’s lowest, despite an Au­gusta Com­mis­sion vote Monday to raise taxes.

The increase, expected to generate $7.9 million to cover an operating deficit and provide employees a small, one-time bonus, sparked an outcry among some taxpayers who argued that they weren’t getting anything new in return for the annual increase, amounting to $122.50 for the owner of a $200,000 home.

After Mayor Deke Copenhaver broke a 5-5 tie to pass the 1.75-mill increase, the countywide rate to be charged for consolidated government operations is 9.792 mills.

Even with the increase, only a handful of Georgia county governments – including Glynn, Hall, Columbia and Floyd – have millages lower than Augusta’s, though most of them include municipalities that charge additional taxes.

Among governments similar to Augusta’s, Macon-Bibb, Columbus-Muscogee, Athens-Clarke and Chatham, home of Savannah, all have countywide rates exceeding 11 mills. Newly consolidated Macon-Bibb leads the bunch at 19.502 mills for residents inside the former Macon city limits, with the promise that rates will be lowered in subsequent years.

Columbus-Muscogee, very similar in size and composition to Augusta, levies 17.18 mills.

What pushes Augusta-Richmond County up in tax rate rankings is school taxes. After a slight reduction recently, the Richmond County Board of Educa­tion charges a rate of 19.972 mills. That is higher than rates for the Bibb, Chatham, Glynn, Dougherty, Floyd, Hall, Lee and Columbia school systems, but lower than those in Muscogee and Clarke.

Augusta Commissioner Don­nie Smith, despite voting against the increase Monday, dismissed the idea that ordinary residents rely heavily on mill rates in choosing where to live.

“I really don’t think it’s a consideration,” he said. “I think it’s the school system, how close they are to their workplace, the quality of the house they want to buy and the neighborhood. I think there are a lot of things on the check list that go before the property tax rate.”

The city competes for residents with Aiken County, where taxes are calculated differently.

While Georgia counties charge the millage against 40 percent of a home’s assessed value, South Carolina assesses a millage against just 4 percent of a home’s value. The Aiken County millage is 69.9 mills, while the school tax rate is 170.6 mills.

The rates generally are a basis for comparison and give taxpayers an idea about their upcoming bill, but don’t themselves offer a complete picture of the tax burden on residents because they’re tied to property values. Higher rates applied against lower values might generate the same revenue, for instance, as lower rates applied against higher property values.

The site tax-rates.org calculates the property tax burden on residents as a percentage of their property’s value or a percentage of their income.

In Augusta-Richmond County, where the median home value is $100,000, residents pay a median county tax bill of $911 and an average of 1.83 percent of their annual income in property taxes. In Columbia County, where the median home value is $168,700, residents pay a median tax bill of $1,466, according to tax-rates.org. The bill is nearly 2 percent of a taxpayer’s annual income.

In Columbus-Muscogee, where tax rates are higher and the median home value is $132,000, residents pay a median tax bill of $701 and an average of 1.23 percent of their annual income in property taxes.

Tax-rates.org notes that South Carolina has among the lowest property tax burdens in the country. Aiken County homeowners pay a median tax bill of $588, or an average of 1 percent of their annual income in property taxes.

By The Numbers
CountyCountywideSchoolTotalCity*
Athens-Clarke13.72033.7 
Aiken**69.9170.6240.562
Augusta-Richmond9.79219.97229.764 
Bulloch10.449.84820.2886.358
Chatham11.54315.88127.42412.48
Columbia6.40218.5924.992 
Columbus-Muscogee17.1823.3740.55 
Dougherty11.89418.44530.3399.99
Glynn5.67316.15721.8313.219
Lee14.20617.531.706 
Macon-Bibb19.50217.94537.447 

*county seat tax rates if unconsolidated 

**south carolina assesses property taxes on 4 percent of a home's value

Comments (12) Add comment
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dichotomy
34745
Points
dichotomy 08/30/14 - 11:36 pm
10
0
The issue is NOT the tax

The issue is NOT the tax burden alone. The issue is that they raised our taxes and some of us get little or no service. The issue is that many of us are paying higher taxes on land that was wrongly, forcibly, rezoned to a higher tax rate. The issue is that they raised our taxes because THEY cannot control spending. The issue is that they raised our taxes and we are already paying DOUBLE what we should for Garbage Service and EXTRA for Fire Protection. The issue is that the more we give them they more they will spend on idiotic projects that FAIL and STAND EMPTY. The issue is that we have ZERO confidence in their stewardship of OUR money.

GnipGnop
12532
Points
GnipGnop 08/31/14 - 05:03 am
8
1
If they look at the

Schools in ARC they will be locating elsewhere. Yes countyman I know about the highest ranked magnet schools but you can't really believe that 4000 people, even if only half of them have a child, are going to get into a magnet school? 57% graduation rates don't lie about overall education quality. One more thing. I don't know what info you guys are going on but my taxes on my 150,000 home in Aiken county (which I also pay NA city taxes on) are only 300 more a year than my 40,000 home in ARC was. Better schools, the police come within 5 minutes when you call and when they do come they don't tell me "well what do you expect? You live in South Augusta". Oh, and I have never heard of our mayor or council members getting into shouting matches or berating each other at meetings. Good luck tax payers. You're gonna need it!

Riverman1
87512
Points
Riverman1 08/31/14 - 05:31 am
7
0
Apples and Oranges

The important aspect is Columbia County is next door with its lower tax rate. Saying the average value of homes in Richmond County is much lower than those in Columbia County and therefore residents of Richmond County pay lower taxes is convoluted logic. If you live in a $100,000 home in Columbia County you pay less than someone living in a $100,000 home in Richmond County. What about a resident of Richmond County living in a $168,700 home which is described as being the average valued home in Columbia County?

nocnoc
45434
Points
nocnoc 08/31/14 - 06:17 am
5
1
For the WHOLE TAX PICTURE

In the overall scheme of things
Given ARC size, issues and political problems the overall taxes are at or just slightly higher, with other counties that are similar issues and problems.

Interesting to note that the CONSOLIDATED COUNTY TAXES all run higher.

while taxes will always be a sore point for fixed income residents. I feel the overall problem Richmond Co Residents have and continue to have is:

A money pit called Downtown.
Where a majority of the collected tax Money is spent and wasted.
.

------------------
Here is a Official GA.Gov link to all
GA Counties Millage rates as of 2013.

https://etax.dor.ga.gov/PTD/cds/csheets/LGS_Georgia_County_Ad_Valorem_Ta...

----------
RICHMOND COUNTY TAXES
STATE 0.150
SCHOOL 19.982
COUNTY INCORPORATED 8.042
COUNTY UNINC FIRE DISTRICT 2.140
BLYTHE 0.000
HEPHZIBAH 0.000
AUGUSTA URBAN SERVICE 7.987
COUNTY WIDE CAPITAL OUTLAY 0.781
COUNTY UNINCORPORATED 8.042
FIRE DIST BLYTHE 3.349

agustinian
721
Points
agustinian 08/31/14 - 06:45 am
4
0
Nice Article

Good article for the CSRA. Well done AC.

grinder48
2031
Points
grinder48 08/31/14 - 06:56 am
0
0
Smoke & Mirrors
Unpublished

No matter what you say, no mater how you twist and turn it, the bottom line is that ARC spent more money than it had, ARC gov't is full of incompetence, waste, fraud, and abuse, and the taxpayers have been screwed because of the incompetence, waste, fraud, and abuse of the ARC government ... period.

countyman
20724
Points
countyman 08/31/14 - 03:16 pm
1
4
Schools

The 58% graduation rate doesn't include all of the high schools either.. The graduation rate automatically rises once you include the new RCTM school in South Augusta(attracted the GA Tech Dean of Engineering and democratic candidate for governor)and the charter school coming to the Hephzibah city limits.. The graduation rate will steadily improve over the next few years.. And what does the graduation rate have to do with elementary or middle? Freedom Park was named an national model school and Lake Forest Hills elementary is a IB world school..

Thom Tuckey(CSRA Alliance) recently spoke to a group of people about the Cyber Command and the local schools in the CSRA.. Guess what county Thom Tuckey said he would send his kids to school at?

The first school mentioned was Davidson located downtown, and then ARC(IB program) which is not a magnet school...

AR Johnson is easily ranked the second best high school in the entire CSRA.. Thom Tuckey still favored ARC so everybody is not focusing on magnet schools.. The graduation rate at Cross Creek is on par with any high school in the CSRA except for Davidson/AR Johnson.. And kids from all over the county can't just attend Westside anymore.. The SAT scores, ACT, etc will go back to normal in the near future..

Riverman1
87512
Points
Riverman1 08/31/14 - 03:01 pm
2
0
I'd Move All RC Schools To Fort

Freedom Park is located within Ft. Gordon and brings in many resources from the Army folks. Heck, move all Richmond Cty schools onto the fort.

Riverman1
87512
Points
Riverman1 08/31/14 - 03:57 pm
4
0
Richmond County schools are

Richmond County schools are the most abysmal in the hemisphere teaching a western perspective.

Riverman1
87512
Points
Riverman1 08/31/14 - 04:01 pm
2
0
Countyman said, "The 58%

Countyman said, "The 58% graduation rate doesn't include all of the high schools either.. "

Where did you get THAT from?

countyman
20724
Points
countyman 08/31/14 - 04:22 pm
2
2
The RCTM in South Augusta

The RCTM in South Augusta didn't open until August of 2013...

Why do you always have to bash Richmond County? If Columbia County is so great, then why do you feel the need to put other places down..

GnipGnop
12532
Points
GnipGnop 08/31/14 - 04:52 pm
3
0
Let's do some math....

Ok let's say we have 8 high schools with a average of 800 students. That's 8X800=6400 in which 58% graduate. Thats 3712 kids. Let's add another 800 kids in there with 100 graduation rate. That only raises the rate to 64% graduation rate. Still pretty abysmal. The elementary and middle schools are where it starts. What do you think will happen when they are combined? And what have you to say to residents that are paying some of the highest school taxes with the worse graduation rates????

Riverman1
87512
Points
Riverman1 09/01/14 - 05:00 am
1
0
Countyman, you said the 58%

Countyman, you said the 58% graduation rate didn't include all the schools and I asked where you got that from. You said the Tech Mag school didn't open until 2013. Well, that's fine and it will be including in the graduation rates for the next year, but ALL the operating schools at the time of the survey were included in the horrendous 58% graduation rate.

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